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Daily stress and coping among emergency response officers: a case study

Susana Rodrigues (INESC Technology and Science, Porto, Portugal)
Mariana Kaiseler (Leeds Beckett University, Leeds, UK)
Cristina Queirós (Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences, University of Porto, Porto, Portugal)
Miguel Basto-Pereira (Universidade do Minho Escola de Psicologia, Braga, Portugal)

International Journal of Emergency Services

ISSN: 2047-0894

Article publication date: 7 August 2017



Police in Europe are facing increased demands and diminished resources, and this is particularly prominent among emergency response officers (EROs) working in poorer countries such as Portugal. Considering that daily stress and limited coping skills can result in detrimental consequences for officers’ health and society welfare, the purpose of this paper is to investigate stress and coping among Portuguese EROs.


EROs completed daily diaries over 11 working days. Each diary entry included an open-ended stressor, coping section and a Likert-type scale to evaluate coping effectiveness. Data were analyzed using inductive and deductive content analysis procedures. The frequency of stressors, coping and coping effectiveness were calculated.


EROs reported facing more operational stressors, particularly public disorder situations. However, gun situations were perceived as the most intense stressor. Emotion-focused coping (i.e. peer support) was more used than problem-focused. Despite variation in coping effectiveness in accordance to stressor experienced, longitudinal analysis suggests that problem-focused coping is more effective.

Research limitations/implications

Longitudinal methodologies should contemplate stress appraisal and coping effectiveness in order to fully understand stress and coping. Future studies should employ this methodology at a larger scale and over longer periods.

Practical implications

Intervention programs for EROs should be multidimensional, targeting work conditions and resources, stress management, and coping effectiveness.


Findings provide strong recommendations for future research and applied implications for stress prevention and effective coping interventions.



This work was supported by the European Union Seventh Framework Programme ([FP7/2007-2013] [FP7/2007-2011]) under grant agreement n° [PCIG10-GA-2011-303880] and from Fundação para a Ciência e Tecnologia (FCT), Portugal (DFRH/BI/51845/2012). The authors would like to thank Policia de Segurança Pública (PSP) and Police Commanders for collaborating in this research.


Rodrigues, S., Kaiseler, M., Queirós, C. and Basto-Pereira, M. (2017), "Daily stress and coping among emergency response officers: a case study", International Journal of Emergency Services, Vol. 6 No. 2, pp. 122-133.



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